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Make your own fabulous Sloe Gin

Every year we forage for sloes to make sloe gin. Sloes are the fruit of the Blackthorn shrub (Prunus Spinosa), which is native to Europe, Western Asia and parts of North Africa, and has been introduced to other parts of the world. Blackthorn, which is a member of the plum family, has been used here in the UK as stock proof hedging for centuries. Consequently, in rural areas, it is a very common sight indeed.

The fruit, which starts off green, ripens to a wonderful black with a blue/purple wild yeast bloom to them. Raw, the fruit is super tart and astringent, but like many wild fruits they make a wonderful, jewel like jelly, and can be made into a delicious liqueur which here in the UK we call Sloe Gin.

 

Follow our simple recipe and tips to make a fabulous Sloe Gin. Sloe Gin is easy to make, tastes delicious and makes a perfect home-made present for Christmas.

Traditionally Sloes are picked after the first frosts, as it is believed that this is when they are at their sweetest. Old recipes call for each fruit to be pricked with a thorn from the same bush it came from, or a silver pin to allow the alcohol to permeate the fruit and draw the flavour out. I have made Sloe Gin by this method once, and can assure you it's a tedious way to spend an hour or two . Older recipes also call for the sugar to be added to the sloes at the start of the liqueur making process, again to encourage the flavours to be drawn out of the fruit, however I prefer to leave sweetening to the end of the process, and add it in the form of a sugar syrup when we are bottling it.

 

Follow our simple recipe and tips to make a fabulous Sloe Gin. Sloe Gin is easy to make, tastes delicious and makes a perfect home-made present for Christmas.

To avoid having to prick the individual fruits, I favour the method of picking the fruit and freezing it first. There are a number of advantages to taking this approach. Firstly, it means you can pick your fruit in batches, as you come across it, and save it up in the freezer until you have enough to use. Secondly, the freezing process sweetens the fruit for you, so you don't have to wait until the first frosts. And finally, freezing damages the cell walls of the fruit, allowing the juice to impart its flavour to your spirit easily, without any pricking or use of sugar. For more guidance on foraging and freezing, please check out our freezing foraged fruit post.

 

Follow our simple recipe and tips to make a fabulous Sloe Gin. Sloe Gin is easy to make, tastes delicious and makes a perfect home-made present for Christmas.

By freezing your sloes, the method for making Sloe Gin has now become super simple. Simple take your frozen fruit and roughly half fill a bottle or jar that has a well fitting lid. (Here we are using empty spirit bottles). Top up with gin, and leave to infuse in a cool, dark place for 3 months, giving it a shake when you remember. After 3 months, strain and sweeten to taste. You can see how the skins have split during the freezing and defrosting process in the picture above.

 

Follow our simple recipe and tips to make a fabulous Sloe Gin. Sloe Gin is easy to make, tastes delicious and makes a perfect home-made present for Christmas.

Sloe Gin continues to mature over time, and each year's batch will have a slightly different flavour and sweetness depending on the conditions of that year. This one from last year has now mellowed into a very smooth port like liqueur with a really dark colour, and delicious taste.

Sloe Gin makes a perfect present for Christmas, and is an ideal addition to a Christmas Hamper. For more easy home-made spirit infusion ideas, please check out our Cranberry and Orange Liqueur, Christmas Spirit or, if you prefer something with a bit more of a kick, our Wild Horseradish and Ground Ivy Vodka.

 

Follow our simple recipe and tips to make a fabulous Sloe Gin. Sloe Gin is easy to make, tastes delicious and makes a perfect home-made present for Christmas.

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8 Comments

  • Reply Ashley Beolens

    We keep threatening to make Sloe Gin in our house but are never really sure of the amounts of sugar needed to sweeten, so adding at the end like this might work out well for us (now to find some Sloes)

    September 22, 2016 at 9:55 pm
    • Reply Sarah - Craft Invaders

      I sweeten all my infusions once they are made now – makes for a fun tasting session!

      September 30, 2016 at 9:55 am
  • Reply Lauren (The Helpful Hiker)

    I’ve never made my own, but am partial to a bit of sloe gin. Your tips are fab, if I can find some sloes I will give it a go. Also liking the idea of your cranberry and orange liqueur, making me feel quite christmassy!

    September 21, 2016 at 7:32 am
    • Reply Sarah - Craft Invaders

      Thanks Lauren, Sloe Gin is lovely and makes a fab gift, the cranberry liqueur is perfect for Christmas too x

      September 30, 2016 at 9:49 am
  • Reply Wendy

    Mmm, yum! Love sloe gin. My Dad makes a great one – very potent but very lovely! (Hic.) :-)
    I’ve never tried making it before but must rectify that and have a go at it as would love to have my own stash!
    Wendy recently posted…As ‘Bad Moms’ hits the cinema, I say enough already!My Profile

    September 12, 2016 at 10:31 pm
  • Reply Nikki Frank-Hamilton

    Sarah, I love reading your posts about making a liqueurs. It is so fascinating to me and you’ve made an art of it. I don’t think we have this fruit here, I am going to have to look, this sounds like a really fun project. Especially as the flavors change from year to year, it would be so fun to see what it’s like when you pop the top for the first taste! I also really love that you know exactly what’s in it, as I get older this is so much more important to me! Cheers!

    September 12, 2016 at 12:58 pm
    • Reply Sarah - Craft Invaders

      Thanks Nikki, its such fun trying new flavours and it is lovely to be able to use fruits that we can forage :)

      September 20, 2016 at 2:26 pm

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